Holiday Economics for Children
Materials required: any holiday children’s story, toy catalogs and holiday fliers with photos of gifts to cut out, food-shelter-clothing catalog photos to cut out, scissors, tape
Large sheet of white or Kraft paper, about 4 or 5 feet long, (do not write on it yet), or Pocket Chart
Begin with a Christmas, Hanukkah, or holiday story read aloud. The December virtual book club for kids by a group of bloggers has many suggestions for Jan Brett stories with accompanying activities.
This lesson idea for holiday gift discussions about the difference between wants and needs for children. Basically, you are going to let the children fall into a little teachable moment trap! You are going to tell them to cut out items from holiday catalogs and fliers that they might want for gifts this season. Do not say more at this time! Just smile! Let them have fun cutting out pictures. Suggest each child finds one or two items before joining the class on the rug in front of the large blank paper.
For young children the pictures could be cut out ahead of time by the teacher so they just have to choose a picture. Have plenty of extras on hand. Be sure the pictures of food, shelter, and clothing are included. Let them, pick whatever picture(s) they like, which will probably mostly be wants. Have a limit on how many pictures each child may share. PDF
Or use this free PDF: free-holiday-wants-and-needs, 19 page printable
Have the children meet on the rug, and let them share their pictures one at a time. Do not explain why, but tape photos of wants towards one side of the large paper, and photos of needs towards the other side. When everyone has shared, ask the children to see if they see two different groups of pictures. At this point, there is usually mostly photos of wants on the large paper. As the children if the wants will meet their needs. Ask questions like: Is there anything to wear? Is there nourishing food? Is there a house to keep us warm? Explain things we want do not help us meet our needs for food, shelter, and clothing. If we just have wants and no needs in our life we would have to where to live and no food to eat. Someone might speak up and say we would have no clothing, either!
Label the two sides. Children may feel socks are a terrible gift and that they NEED their video game machines. Explain grown-ups must pay for the needs in their lives. Even if a child is living with a relative or a shelter, someone is paying for the need. Now this is the odd thing, although the children will swear Santa is true, they do understand someone pays for the holiday gifts. Do not get in to a discussion about whether or not Santa or any holiday character is real or not, refer children to their parents about those questions. Somehow it doesn’t always come up, though, kids are smarter than they let on about this type of thing. Sum up the lesson with the thought even needs are a gift as they help take care of you, and funds for wants are limited even for grown-ups.
Leave the large group project paper up during the holidays when children are talking about what they are getting to help them remember these ideas. This lesson is one parents appreciate at this time of year!
Thank you for reading, Carolyn